Hanyu Pinyin Battle Lost?


Interesting to use Myanmar as an example… They did change their name, under the threat of force from a ruthless military regime.

It’s completely outside of the realm of possibility for the Taiwanese to start renaming all of their cities to the former native names…so why don’t we just confine the discussion to how we go about romanizing the current accepted names?


What they could do is change the romanization to reflect Taiwanese / Minnan pronunciation.(Cue new round of romanization-system wars.)


I don’t know how serious you are…but I’m sure there are some ideologues on this board that would be supportive of this option.

And it’s dumb.

There are A LOT of people in Taiwan who don’t understand Taiwanese, especially when it comes to proper nouns. I hear a lot of Taiwanese speakers switch to Mandarin when they are mentioning proper nouns in their conversation because the Mandarin pronunciation is more widely known and understood. It’s just more natural for them.

Also, a large portion of the foreigners here are, to some degree, trying to learn Mandarin. Making them utilize the Taiwanese pronunciation of these places while the rest of the country predominantly uses the Mandarin form is just cruel and unusual punishment…lol.


I’m sure that’s how China justifies their treatments of Tibetans and Uyghurs. With that logic, you can justify anything by pumping in massive migrants.


I don’t disagree. But you honestly think Taiwan aborigines will gain the political power necessary to implement what you’re talking about? If so, best of luck…cause you’ll need lots of it.


Honestly… YOU are the one arguing for a ridiculous authoritarian action. There is zero chance that the Taiwanese public will, when left to their free accord, move to CHANGE the names of all their cities and locations to names that, according to YOU, are more historically and culturally significant. It’s an absurd proposal.

The names of the cities are in Chinese characters. There is absolutely no public support to change that… So the only romanization question is “How do we romanize those Chinese characters to make it more convenient for those who rely on those romanizations to communicate and navigate?”

Let’s stop pretending that changing the name of Wuri to Katar Sakaly or Oo-jit are realistic options. Completely impractical and nonfunctional…


Problem: There are 14 competing standards.
Solution: “We need to come up with a new standard to end the confusion.”
Result: There are 15 competing standards.


I’m not saying it’s the popular thing to do now. However, just because it part of the public discussion now doesn’t mean it isn’t the right thing to do down the path.

Let’s take a look at a recent news regarding to a similar topic:


The Sun moon lake area has been Ita Thao’s traditional territory since the time of the Dutch occupation. Just as they are finally being able to reclaim two thirds of their traditional territories back, the Han immigrants who encroached on their lands say they want out, taking the land with them.

In a more ideal situation, former colonizers would realize the fault of their ancestors and acknowledge the Aboriginal people’s right to their traditional territories.

In New Zealand for example, even area filled with MacDonalds and gas stations could be owned by an Iwi as their traditional territory. Business operating there would have to rent the land from the Iwi. As a result, the money made by the Iwis can be used on Maori language and culture education and revival as regulated by relevant regulations.

The New Zealand government is also changing many place names to its original Maori form, and putting efforts into Maori language education in schools. If Taiwan wants to be a civilized place that actually cares about transitional justice, these are the most basic things we should do.


Wasn’t Mumbai called Bombay in the past?
Change cities’ names can be possible.


I know you are trying to do what you think is “right,” but I think efforts to restore land to some former arrangement from hundreds of years ago is a completely unattainable goal and any efforts to do so will inevitably cause more harm than good.

Do you not live on land that was likely formerly cultivated by a native tribe? Don’t we all? Was that native tribe the first settlers of the land or did they wrest it from some other tribe at some point in the distant past? Who has “naming rights?”

You speak of these Han immigrants as if they are the ones that came in and wrested this land from the Aboriginal people. I’d say that’s pretty unlikely. They are people like you and me who probably saw a property for sale and purchased it… and now all of the sudden they are being told that the land they spent their money on is going to be returned to the owners that claimed it centuries ago. I don’t think I’d be down for that deal either. If someone told me that my home was being repossessed by a native tribe, I’d be pretty pissed.

Anyways… we are WAY off topic here. None of this has to do with the fact that CURRENTLY these places go by Chinese-language names and the best way to romanize those names is by utilizing the internationally accepted standard of Hanyu pinyin.


I’d say that’s pretty unlikely.


Yes, they teach Mandarin in nearly every school in the UK now and everyone uses Pinyin. It would be nice for Taiwan to adopt it, considering the need to be embraced greater into the global system。 It also doesnt affect the average Taiwanese in the slightest and causes inconvenience for tourists and a host of other things


Unless you’re talking about government owned land, what other ways do present-day people who own land acquire it? They purchased it…

If you are implying something more nefarious, fine. I, like every other reasonable person on Earth, am opposed to acquiring land by nefarious means. If there is evidence that the present-day owner acquired land by illegal means, I’m all for prosecuting that person. But if we are just talking about vague accusations that 250 years ago this land was Ita Thao territory and now Mr. Wang owns it, I’m sorry… I’m not going to support taking the land away from Mr. Wang just because he purchased land that was tribal territory centuries earlier.


I’m certainly not saying anything about taking anything away from anyone, not sure where you got that strawman from. What I am saying is that the idea that aboriginal people here sold off their lands in some kind of orderly process is pretty unlikely.


From my understanding, most of the aboriginal land was either…

  • Taken by force by Dutch, Chinese and Japanese colonizers (militarily or by fueling tribal disputes and allying with one of them). The Japanese, I suspect being the harshest on land theft implementing a heavy handed approach and hellbent on turning Taiwan into a cash cow for the empire.

  • Aboriginal chiefs selling out tracts of land to the colonizers and pocketing most of the spoils. Chiefs either made out like bandits or got ripped off since well, it wasn’t exactly a democratic vote amongst the tribe and many transactions were under duress. Colonizers couldn’t negotiate with tribe individuals and had to discuss with tribe leaders.

New Zealand and Canada not really comparable since they signed Native Treaties. Taiwan’s situation more comparable to Australia or Africa where colonial powers well, just didn’t really care much for the ‘barbarians’ and were happy to push them into the corners of the map.

But yeah, probably off topic here.


Oh, really? They threatened to use force against the UN? :rofl:

It wasn’t much of a change anyway. Imagine the US asking people to stop calling it the US – we’re the USA, damn it!

I’m too lazy to look up the actual numbers, but suppose the ratio of the more-or-less permanent population to the temporary population (including tourists, business people, and temporary foreign workers) is, let’s say, 100 to 1. Most of the visitors are not going to stick around for very long, true, but they will be replaced by approximately the same number of visitors, who will in turn be replaced, and so on. Even within one lifetime, the cumulative number of visitors may exceed the permanent population. So it may look like a tiny number of people, but it’s actually not.

Also, suppose you are a local person with a business that you want visitors to be able to find. Using the international standard for romanization makes it slightly likelier that any random visitor actually will find your business. Only slightly, but it adds up, and it’s a win-win. :slight_smile:

Also also, suppose someone asks you how to spell your name in Roman letters, for the sake of some product or service you want to purchase from a foreign company, and you have no idea because all you learned in school was bopomofo. Lose-lose. :frowning:

Also also also,

Wrong. (Period.) Go to a (mainland) Chinese museum with ancient artifacts that have strange names. Read the Chinese captions, and you will probably notice HP in brackets, to let native speakers know how to pronounce those uncommon characters.

I can already hear some honorable members of the forum saying bopomofo serves the same purpose, but if people only have time to learn so much in their busy school lives, why not have them learn something more useful than a special alphabet no-one else on the planet uses?


I’m talking about Taiwan. I’m well aware of the additional conveniences of hanyu pinyin in China. Foreigners that don’t know Chinese can write down a romanized address, show it to a taxi driver and he/she will know exactly where to go. In Taiwan, you will never be able to show a taxi driver any form of romanization. It’s completely useless as a tool to facilitate communication between foreigners and Chinese speakers. That’s why when I’m speaking of romanization in Taiwan I assert that it’s SOLE purpose is to convey Chinese proper nouns to non-Chinese readers.

I wish I could convince Taiwan to abandon the ridiculous zhuyin fuhao in favor of hanyu pinyin as a method to teach Mandarin pronunciation, but I know full well that is an impossible task.


Huh? I’m talking about the threat of force against their own people. There was a military coup and the new leaders decided to change the name of the country. The public was generally not in favor of the change.


My point is that those same conveniences would work in Taiwan, if Taiwanese would embrace HP.

Is it?

@discobot fortune


:crystal_ball: Better not tell you now